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Financial Learning Center


Managing Your Credit and Debt

What's Your Credit Rating?

Your best guess, combined with your credit report, is all you're going to have to figure that out. You do have a credit rating. All three of the credit bureaus below have a rating system. The problem is that they don't, and won't, disclose it. The only thing you can do is to take a look at your credit reports.

The reports contain a list of your credit cards, whether the accounts are active (being used) or not, and a summary of any credit problems you've had. If you have a history of paying late or slowly, have had collection procedures initiated against you, or have filed for bankruptcy, these things will almost certainly show up in your reports. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion (see below)—to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. But there's only one online source authorized to do so. That's annualcreditreport.com. Beware of other sites that may look and sound similar. Also, if you've been denied credit in the past 60 days, you are entitled to receive a credit report free of charge.

There are three main credit reporting agencies. Your creditors might use one or any combination of the three. They are:

Experian
1-888-397-3742
www.experian.com

Equifax
1-800-525-6285
www.equifax.com

TransUnion
1-800-916-8800
www.transunion.com

You can obtain a copy of your credit report online using the websites listed above or call the companies for further information.

It is a good idea to check your credit report for errors every few years, whether you have debt problems or not. Check with each company to see if there is a charge to obtain your credit report.

The reports come with an explanation of what all the entries mean, but they can be very hard to read. If you do find errors on your report, each agency has steps you can take to fix them. For many people, the process will take a few months. You can also have a statement placed on your report if you had debt problems for good reasons, like job loss, divorce, or illness.

To fix errors or post a statement, write to the address listed on your credit report.

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